JEFFREYS BAY, South Africa — Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, has taken out the 2011 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay in a hard-fought Final over Mick Fanning (AUS), 30, in front of the raucous and hardy hometown crowd on the beach and hundreds of thousands watching online.
Event No. 4 of 11 on the 2011 ASP World Title season, the Billabong Pro culminated in dramatic fashion Sunday with “victory at sea”, three-to-four foot (1 – 1.5 metre) surf and the world’s best surfers displayed their comprehensive abilities to shred anything from yesterday’s perfection to today’s challenging conditions.
Smith continuously posted impressive scores throughout his Quarterfinal, Semfinal and Final heats, but it was his local knowledge that allowed his to select the best waves in the Final to overtake an in-form Fanning. The win was met with an eruption from those in attendance braving the harsh weather, and Smith was cheered up the beach to an emotional audience.
“It’s been an incredible week for me,” Smith said. “All the support of the people at Jeffreys Bay, Garth (Tarlow), Steve (Smith), my girlfriend Lyndall (Jarvis), my mom and dad and everyone else. It’s been a really special week for me and I’m so happy right now.” Moving from 5th to 2nd on the ASP World Title rankings, the young South African is now firmly in the hunt and will utilize the confidence attained today to propel him through the latter half of the year.
“Mick (Fanning) has surfed amazing all week,” Smith said. “He’s always an inspiration and he’s right there with everyone in the hunt for the title. Today’s a huge win for me. Last year, it was very emotional. To back it up this year just feels really, really good. It’s huge for my confidence and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”
Fanning, who claimed the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay in 2002 and 2006, appeared to find his form this morning, dusting Gold Coast flyboy Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, and Joel Parkinson (AUS), 30, en route his Runner-Up finish. Sunday’s placing sees Fanning move from 8th to 4th on the ASP World Title Rankings.
“It was really difficult out there today,” Fanning said. “Three heats yesterday and three heats today and felt like the arms wanted to fall off. Big congratulations to Jordy (Smith) though. It was great surfing. It’s inspirational stuff and I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Parkinson, 2008 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay winner, was in sensational form this year, consistently notching up high scores throughout the event before falling to a rampaging Fanning in the Semifinals. “The conditions are a bit tedious today but every now and then there’s a good wave,” Parkinson said. “Everyone is in the same boat too – we all have to deal with it. Shame I couldn’t find the same rhythm that Mick (Fanning) did out there, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”
With his Equal 3rd finish, Parkinson ascends to the frontrunner position in the hunt for the 2011 ASP World Title, but the perennial threat remains cautious when regarding the remainder of the season.
“I don’t really think about that yet,” Parkinson said. “It’s only the fourth event of the year and I’ve been in this position before. I’m happy with my surfing and my boards and I’ll keep my eyes on the next heat.”
Adrian Buchan (AUS), 28, former No. 17 on the ASP World Title rankings, led the goofy-footed assault on Jeffreys Bay throughout the event and his Equal 3rd place finish today moves the Australian up to 11th heading into the next event in Tahiti.
“I missed a good one at the start and that really let Jordy (Smith) get on top early in the heat,” Buchan said. “I always felt like I could come back but it just didn’t happen for me. It’s still an excellent result for me and I’m excited about the next few events.”
Alejo Muniz (BRA), 21, 2011 ASP Dream Tour rookie, matched his best result of the year with and Equal 5th place finish. Muniz now sits well inside the cutoff for the ASP Top 34 rotation in August, and will remain a fixture at the elite level throughout the duration of the season.
“I never thought I would have good results in my rookie year,” Muniz said. “I am surfing with my heroes and to be getting through heats is what I always dreamed of as a little kid. This matches my best result this year from the Gold Coast and I’m stoked to be safe for the August cutoff.”
Muniz, along with fellow rookie Julian Wilson (AUS), 22, both finished Equal 5th at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay.